The overall plot was actually intriguing and the first hour or so of the book was an enjoyable set-up of an interesting and flawed (but likeable) female character. However, after the entrance of the male lead in the story, it quickly began to veer in an unbelievable and improbable direction. After repeatedly thinking "oh, puleeze!" and "no she didn't!", I knew that this story was not for me. Judging from the first couple of hours of reading, this book is better suited for those who enjoy the Harlequin romance genre.
The intricately woven journey of a treasured book through centuries of social, political, and religious change and turmoil. It is obvious that the author did a great deal of historical research, which enriched the characters and environments in this story.
There were many high points in this story. Among them was the fascinating and detailed description of the delicate tools and level of perfection that were invested in creating early hand illuminated manuscripts. The human stories that were stitched together on the foundation of the cherished book flowed beautifully.
Anyone who has a better command of language accents. Some of her interpretations of Castilian Spanish and Eastern European languages were forced, artificial, and very distracting. Otherwise, Ms. Wren did a nice job of evoking subtleties of a wide range of emotion and humanizing the characters.
An excellent period story -- well-researched, fascinating, great character development. I recommend that The Pillars of the Earth be read before reading the second book, World Without End.
This book would have rated five stars, if it had not contained so many scenes of detailed brutality and violence. Other than this flaw, I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the depth of the characters, with their weaknesses, bravery, capacity for love, and ingenuity. Follett painted a beautifully detailed landscape of intertwined lives, and integrated fascinating details of 12th century life and architecture.
This book has a sweet, predictable storyline with improbable twists. Naive country girl from hardscrabble background discovers that her loving parents have kept her true paternity a secret. Girl's wealthy biological father sweeps in to rescue her from her parents' growing financial hardship, leaving her longing for her simple life. Girl's inscrutable new father immediately sends her on a grand tour of Europe with her newly discovered siblings, who are hostile to the interloper. Girl suffers identity crisis and her plucky personality emerges. You can guess the rest. A sophisticated, wealthy French nobleman inexplicably falls in love with her at first sight. But the steadfast, handsome young tour guide with no prospects (who seems to be in a constant state of angst) also moons after her -- what's a girl to do? I will never know because I won't be reading the sequel. I would recommend this book to mature adolescents, rather than adult readers.
The author/narrator did a wonderful job of subtly and delicately telling her tale. No one knows her story better than an author, and Geraldine Brooks breathed life into her characters and scenes.
Such an intriguing story, with whispers of nuance liberally sprinkled throughout the story. The tale unfolds in the 17th century with a nicely-crafted set-up for the birth and spread of a deadly plague that brutally takes lives and shreds the fabric of a small, rural community. Even though a few lives in the community are spared, their souls are flayed by the experience and they lose their innocence along with the lives they have known since birth. Tragic death and social collapse reduce the living conditions of the survivors to primitive survival.
This fascinating story is about revival, redemption, and the innate resilience of humans. Our main character discovers her ability to adapt and find beauty and comfort in the essence of love, sacrifice, and benevolence.
The story is well-researched, and the small details of 17th-century life flesh out the fascinating story. That is, until the end of the tale. The cadence of the end of the tale is out of step with the rest of the story. The end doesn't do justice to the spare and well-told story of a remarkable woman who lives through hell on earth. Despite the improbable end, Years of Wonder is a compelling, enjoyable, and worthwhile read.
I was looking forward to book five of the series, but was very disappointed. There are so many characters that it's difficult to keep track of their story lines, except for the main characters. There was a lot of unnecessary violence in this book, which didn't contribute to the story. There were a few riveting sections, but the flow of the story was marred by a great deal of excessive dialogue and description, and the story didn't progress as much as it should have, given the length of the book. It just wasn't as well-crafted as Martin's earlier books in the series.
Intriguing story, which didn't lag. If you enjoy the English turn-of-the-century-free-spirit-heroine type of novel, you'll like this. The author did a wonderful job of painting pictures and capturing characters' actions with words. I do wish I had read the book, rather than listened to the audiobook format. Given the fact that the storyline wasn't linear, it would have been nice to be able to flip back a few pages or chapters to re-read sections to refresh my memory after I skipped a few days between listens. But don't let that stop you -- it's a good listen and the narrator was excellent.
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